Description / Transcription
No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in us. O Lord, You have given us grace to conquer the grave, to conquer our fears, and now we ask that You would give us more grace to uncover our ears, that we would hear, that we would listen, we would believe, we would obey. Speak to us, O Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We come this morning to Genesis, as we continue with our series through the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 3. We’ll be reading verses 1 through 7. Follow along in your Bibles as I read from Genesis 3.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
There are two ways to tell this story. When I say story, it is a true historical story. One way is to explain this passage as the story of original sin, that is, we could look at the theological consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden. Because Adam represented the whole human race, sometimes called our federal head, federal just being the Latin word derivative that means head, because he represented the whole human race, every human being is borne into the world with inherited depravity and inherited guilt. He represented us, he stood in for us, all of us had Adam on our fantasy football team. And so when he sinned, we sinned. And so as his descendants, we have inherited both that depravity and that guilt.
That’s Paul’s argument in Romans chapter 5. Sin came into the world through one man, Romans 5:12. One trespass led to condemnation for all men, Romans 5:18.
So Genesis 3 is the explanation for why we are the way we are. And there’s lot so sub-explanations under that macro explanation. Things having to do with history, and personality, and family, or education or media or opportunity. There are lots of secondary reasons why we sin, why we rebel, why it’s not hard at all to look at our world and our country and see a place that is torn by sin.
And yet ultimately Genesis 3 tells us this is why we are the way we are. And notice I said “we,” not this is the reason “they” are the way “they” are, whoever they is, but “we.” This world, with all of its sadness, its suffering, its strife, is the way that it is because of Genesis 3.
So one appropriate way to handle this passage is to tell the story of original sin.
That’s not what I’m going to do.
The other way is to explain this passage as the story of every sin. How does sin happen? Not just how did it happen, that’s what we’ll look at, but in looking at how it did happen, how does it happen in your life? In my life?
Why do we sin? Why so we sin even when, we may not wake up in the morning and think, “Today’s a good day to sin,” and you look at your to-do list and you have several sins there that you have to get to, sins today. Most of don’t wake up with that, and yet we sin every day. What is so enticing about sin? And why does sin always disappoint us?
Those are the sort of questions I want us to have in mind as we work through this passage.
Look at verse 1. The curtain lifts on another perfect day in paradise. We have for two chapters had constant refrain, “and it was good, good, good, good, good. Very good.” And now on this day we see a serpent slither into view. Revelation 20 calls him that ancient serpent who is the devil, Satan.
This raises a number of questions, most of which we don’t have all the answers we might like. Questions like, “Okay, where did Satan come from?” We know from 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 that there was some sort of angelic fall, some sort of angelic rebellion, though when we get to that later in the fall in the evening, you’ll see that there’s a plausible case that can be made from 2 Peter that it’s not talking about a pre-Genesis 3 rebellion, but rather the angelic rebellion in Genesis chapter 6. We’ll get to that in due course.
We might ask the question, “Well, when were the angels, however they fall, when were they created?” And we don’t know for sure. We know that sometime before God rested on the seventh day the angels were created because there He looked and all the things, visible and invisible, had been made. Perhaps Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and then we have in verses 3 through following the formation and the creation of the known universe, perhaps somewhere before that was the invisible realm of the spiritual universe. We don’t know.
When did these angels fall? We don’t know that either. Sometime after the creation week was over, because we know that God steps back and He says, “Behold, it is very good,” and we know that at the end of chapter 2 with the man and the woman there, it’s certainly good in the known universe that we can see. So we don’t know exactly when they fell. Much of what we think we know about the Bible and angels and demons actually seeps into us from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, that he was the chief of musicians, or various things that we think, “Wasn’t that in the Bible?” Well, it just kinds of comes down to us in Western culture.
There are two Old Testament passages which may hint at Satan’s rebellion. Just turn quickly to those. The first is in Isaiah chapter 14. We have here a taunt about Babylon, Israel’s great enemy. And the language used to describe the fall of Babylon, many scholars think, is such exalted, lofty language that it’s speaking about more than just the fall of Babylon but perhaps the fall of Satan and his angels.
Isaiah 14, verse 12: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”
And so it’s possible that this exalted language, which is speaking in Isaiah’s day about the pride and the arrogance of the king of Babylon, is pulling in as prophecies often would, language that is even bigger and grander than the most immediate subject. And so this may be some hints of the devil’s pining after deity.
There’s one other passage, which I think is even stronger in its implication, and that’s Ezekiel 28. So if you go over Isaiah, Jeremiah, little book of Lamentations, and then Ezekiel 28, similarly, just as Isaiah was a taunt against Babylon, now this is a lament over the king of Tyre. And you’ll see here that the language is again this sort of exalted language which speaks explicitly about Eden and puts the prince of Tyre, describing him as one who fell from the splendor of Eden.
Ezekiel 28, verse 12: ” Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.”
So it’s not hard to hear in this prophecy, this lament over the king of Tyre, that this might be more than just about the king of Tyre. In fact, it’s obvious it can’t all be about the king of Tyre because he wasn’t literally there in the garden of Eden.
And so there’s good reason, I think, to imagine that this is speaking of more than just the immediate context of the king of Tyre, but is giving us some glimpse into this angelic rebellion. Satan was some angel of light who in his beauty and in his privileged position rebelled and grasped after the things of God and was cast down and punished.
We come back to Genesis chapter 3. And we still have questions we wish we could know and answer about where this snake came from. And here in Genesis, you notice Moses doesn’t seem interested at all in telling us about the origin of evil itself. What he is interested in is telling us the origin of human sin and guilt.
So it’s important to realize several things. Evil in the universe did not begin with man. Now we’re going to see the sin of the woman and the sin of the man, and Paul connects those dots that it’s the reason that we are sinners. But evil did not begin with man.
Even more importantly, evil did not begin with God. Evil is not an equal with God. The serpent is not, he’s a serpent. It’s Satan embodying this slithering being. It wasn’t that at the beginning of the universe there were two rival powers, there was a good God and some bad god called Satan. No, clearly this evil one is a created being. He’s not eternal. He has not existed for all time. He has been made by the one God.
So evil did not begin with man, it did not begin with God, it is not eternal. The snake is a literal snake. We read in verse 1 it’s a beast of the field. So it’s not just the personification of evil but the snake was speaking, but it’s more than that, of course. The snake represents the personal presence of Satan in the garden.
And there’s a play on words here, which you can’t see in the English but is pretty obviously there in the Hebrew. In verse 25 of chapter 2, it ends that they were both naked and were not ashamed. The word “naked” there is “arummim.” They were arummim. And then the serpent was more crafty, that’s the word “arum.” They’re tying together that just as the depiction of the good creation ends with man and woman arummim, innocent, unspoiled, unashamed, in the very next curtain to lift we find a serpent who is arum, crafty, and his arum will be the undoing of their innocent arummim.
We are meant to draw lessons from this encounter in the garden. We know in 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul warns us do not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, so we are meant to draw lessons, and see Satan’s devices and understand why not only they sinned but why we sin.
So look at verse 2, now. Look at all, or actually the second half of verse 1. Look at all ta is wrong and devilish about this dialogue between Eve and the snake. First of all notice, Satan approaches the woman instead of the man. Paul, in 1 Timothy, will mention the woman’s deception as a reason why women should not teach or have authority over the man. And some people interpret that to mean, well, Eve was more gullible, or she’s more liable to be deceived, and that’s why women shouldn’t teach or have authority over man because they’re more liable to deception.
I don’t think that’s Paul’s point. I think the point is that this first sin represented a subversion of the order that God created for men and women. That’s why Paul gives two reasons, in 1 Timothy, why women don’t teach or have authority over men. One, because the man was created first, and two, because the woman ___. Both have to do with the order, the design.
So from the beginning, Satan is seeking to subvert the order, whereby the woman was to be a nourishing, nurturing helpmate for the man and the man was to be the head and the leader and the protector. And so it’s not by accident. Not because the woman is more prone to sin, but because that Satan wants to confuse the divine design. Satan uses the word “you,” which you can’t tell in the English, but in the Hebrew throughout verses 2 through 5 is the plural “you.” If he was a southern devil, he’d say “y’all.” If he was from the Midwest, he’d say “you’s guys.” But it’s plural.
Eve, notice in verse 2, “we” may eat of the fruits. So she is speaking a plural. And then in verse 6, “She took of its fruit and ate and she gave some to her husband, who was with her.” So it’s clear that Adam is here all along. Adam’s not, not off on a business trip and he comes back and what did you do, Eve? He is right here.
So already as Eve engages with the serpent in verse 2, something has gone wrong, as we’ll see. He means to overturn the divine design by talking to Eve instead of Adam, and Adam is there passively, not interceding, not engaging, but allowing his woman to have, his wife, the woman, to have this conversation.
And so she sets off on her way. And she sets aside her vocation as a helper and Adam has already relinquished his calling as a leader and protector.
And as much as we’ll see in just a moment that Eve Really does not accurately reflect God’s command, in talking to the devil, that’s on the woman. But that’s also on the man because who received the command? Only the man. Eve was not created yet. It was Adam’s responsibility as Ephesians 5 tells us to wash his wife with the Word, to instruct his wife in the Word. So her failure to adequately communicate the Word of God to the devil is also Adam’s failure to adequately instruct and communicate the Word of God to his wife.
Satan begins with a question. He’s so subtle. He does not deny the Word. If that’s how Satan worked in your life, especially if you’re a Christian, especially if you’ve grown up around the Bible and the church, and Satan just said, “God is bad, don’t like Jesus, disobey commandments,” that’s pretty easy to spot. So Satan doesn’t come. No, he knows how to masquerade as an angel of light, the slithery one. He’s crafty. So he asks a question: Did God really say… Are you sure, Eve?
Now, teachers will tell you there’s no such thing as a bad question. Well, they’re wrong. I say that sometimes as a teacher and mean ask questions, but okay, some of them are bad questions.
This was a diabolical question. Who would think that what appeared to be an innocent theological discussion could lead to the ruin of the human race?
Now, it’s not true that every question, and many people go through seasons of doubt or especially as you’re young in the faith and you’re learning and you’re growing, you have all sorts of questions, good honest questions are important. We want to foster an environment where they’re allowed and welcome, but beware of the religious discussion, which is really permeated by the venom of the serpent.
We still hear his whisper. We may hear it in the academic who says, “Can you trust the words of some ancient book?”
Or in the mouth of some post-modern professor, “Can you really know what God has said? Aren’t we all just products of our environment, and our identity? Can you really know?”
Or we hear him in some literary critic: “Can you really discover the author’s original intent?”
Or we hear him in some revisionist scholar: “Did God really mean this for us today?”
Or we hear it in those who seem very humble when they say, “Well, can any of us truly claim to know what God wants?”
Or we hear it in a false kind of spirituality that says, “Is not God doing a new thing for our day?”
We hear the serpent’s whisper in hundreds of ways, each of which has this same desired end: To silence the clear straightforward Word of God.
There are conversations which have at their aim greater understanding and then there are so-called conversations which have as their aim to eliminate understanding. And this was one of those.
Three times the Word of God is quoted in this passage, and never is it quoted accurately. Once it is quoted in a misleading way, second it’s paraphrased with important changes, and then third it’s flatly denied, as we’ll see.
So Satan begins by asking a question. It’s a question that all of us have heard whispered in our ear before as we read the Bible: Did God really say? Are you sure about that?
Eve’s response, far from standing fast against the devil, travels farther down the road in the wrong direction. Look at what Eve says, beginning in verse 2. She makes a number of mistakes, rather intentional or unintentional. She says, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden.” You think, well, that’s kind of close, but she misses some important language. She omits “any” and she omits the word “surely.”
Go back to chapter 2:16: “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely,'” or some translations “freely,” “You may freely eat of every,
or any, “tree,” except one.
So you notice already what the woman has done in chapter 3: We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden. God said you may freely eat of every tree, expect for one. Already Eve is placing God’s commandment, which was originally in the context of great generosity, and she’s already moving in the direction of miserliness.
The big idea when God spoke to Adam was “you can freely eat from every tree, you just have one you can’t eat from.”
So she omits the “surely,” she omits the “every.” She identifies the tree, notice, with its location instead of its significance. She says the tree that is in the midst of the garden. Now, it may have been in the midst of the garden, but it’s pretty important that the tree they were not to eat was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So we saw last week, I argued that the knowledge of good and evil was a representation of moral autonomy, to choose for yourself, to know for yourself, the choice between what you think is good and what you think is evil. It represents moral rebellion and autonomy. So it’s pretty important what the tree is, and she just says, “well, that one over there in the middle.” Maybe Adam never told her more than that.
She also uses the language that Satan uses. Notice back in chapter 2, verse 15, “The Lord God took the man,” verse 16, “and the Lord God commanded the man,” verse 18, “the Lord God said.” And you notice in your English Bible, “Lord” in those small caps is Yahweh or Jehovah, Yahweh Elohim, the covenant name, the personal name of God.
It’s probably significant that where chapter 3:1 again references the Lord God, when Satan talks, he just says, “Did God?” Elohim? Removing this personal dimension of this covenant making God and Eve repeats the same language, follows suit. She calls Him simply Elohim.
Notice, also, Eve makes the prohibition more stringent than it was. God said you may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, and then chapter 3, verse 3, Eve says “neither shall you touch it.” You see how Eve is understanding and depicting God as one who is miserly. Instead of the context of generosity, you can freely eat of every tree except for one, she says, “Well, God said we can eat from the trees, except this one in the middle. We can’t even touch it.” He never said you couldn’t touch it. She’s adding to the prohibition. She fails to capture the urgency of the warning.
Again, in chapter 2, “God says you shall not eat for in the day you eat of it,” verse 17, “you shall surely die.” It’s emphatic. That day you will die, count on it, it’s certain.
She fails to capture the urgency of it and says you shall not touch it lest you die. It’s open ended.
The woman, as one commentator says, disparaged the privileges God gave, added to the prohibition, and minimized the penalty.
So it may seem like an innocent question, and now an innocent conversation is going entirely in the wrong direction. Satan responds and he makes certain counter claims.
Verse 4: “He said to the woman, ‘You will not die.'” Then he says second, “your eyes will be opened,” and three, “you will gain what belongs to God.”
Those are the three counter claims the devil makes: You will not die, your eyes will be opened, you will gain what belongs to God. Essentially, do you understand what Satan is saying? “Eve, God is holding you back.”
She’s already moved in this direction, to remove the commandment of God from the context of generosity, to depict God as one who is somewhat miserly, overly stringent, and now Satan comes and reinforces this wrong conception of God. No, He’s, He’s holding you back. You won’t die. You’ll be like Him. Your eyes will be opened. Don’t believe that God is for you.
Now everything Satan says is true and false, that’s the way Satan operates. He rarely comes and just tells us what is false. It’s obvious. The man and the woman did not immediately die when they ate of the fruit. They did not, you know, melt all Raiders of the Lost Ark-like and disintegrate. They were still there. So, he might technically be able to say, “Well, see, you didn’t keel over and die.”
It’s true. Their eyes were opened. They now saw that they were naked. And they did obtain a knowledge that belonged to God. They grasped for this, this knowledge of good and evil, this moral autonomy. So Satan could plausibly say, “Everything I said to you was true. Technically true.”
But we know better than that, I hope. That a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth is a lie. Satan always presents the bait and hides the hook. He was a liar, that’s what Jesus said, from the very beginning he’s a father of lies. He tells half-truths masquerading as the whole truth, which are in fact bold-faced lies. Yes, their eyes would be open, but more importantly they would be blinded to sin. Yes, they did not die physically in the moment, but as we’ll see, they died an even worse death. Yes, it’s true, they became like God in a sense that now they grasped for this moral autonomy, but don’t we know from Genesis 1:26, they already were like God.
Adam and Eve should have said, “Be like God? He made us in His image? We don’t need to be more like God.”
They exchanged moral autonomy for certain death.
And in the most important sense of the word, they did certainly die on that day, for they were no longer able to have daily conversation with God, no longer able to work as work was meant to be done, no longer able to enjoy perfect innocence and communion with God, with the natural world, with one another. You see, their sin is wickedness and evil and it’s also folly. Such a foolish choice.
Now you notice the snake speaks only twice. He doesn’t give a long soliloquy. He doesn’t make a half-hour closing argument. He doesn’t present them with a lengthy tome. He speaks twice. In your English Bible, it’s there in three sentences.
And what does he do? Well, think about it. He attacks the two things that stand out most about God the creator in chapter 1 and chapter 2. Just think, what are the two aspects of God the creator that stand out most, are mentioned most repeatedly in chapters 1 and 2? His Word is true, and all that He does is good. That’s so we see over and over He says let there be light and there’s light. It’s by His Word that He separates light from the darkness. It’s the power of His Word that creates. We see over and over again in creation, the power and the veracity of the Word of God. And what do we see also? And it was good, good, good, good, very good.
The two things most prominent about God the creator in Genesis 1 and 2: His Word his true and everything He does is good. And Satan lies about both of those things: No, did He really say? Can you trust His Word? Are you sure that He’s good?
Brothers and sisters, that is why you sin. It’s why I sin. In that moment when you choose sin, you are not trusting that God’s Word is true. And you are not believing that He is good. You and I are thinking in that moment of sin, “I know better than God. Is His Word really so clear?”
It really, really, what it says about sex, or what it says about marriage or what it says about lying or gossip… Are we really sure? Or at that moment when you want to grasp that sin in front of you, you’re disbelieving that God is for you, not against you. You’re disbelieving that God is good, that He withholds no good thing from those who love Him. You say, I don’t think so. I know better. God’s not giving me what I really want. He’s keeping me from something. He’s not on my side.
And look at what happens in verse 6. They take the fruit, first Eve and then her husband.
Now contrary to many of our picture books, there is nowhere that it says it was an apple. The only tree we know that was nearby is a fig tree, because they’re going to take fig leaves, fig leaves being the biggest leaves in the garden in that part of the world. So we don’t know for sure. If you want to make it pineapples or bananas or something. If there’s any one guess I would have it’s a fig. Little plum-like thing pulled from the tree. We at least know there were fig trees there in the garden.
Eve falls for the allure of sin. There’s many ways to describe this allure. Sin is practical, it looks practical. It’s good for food, we read, in verse 6. It’s aesthetic. It’s pleasing to look at, a delight to the eyes. And it promises moral uplift. It will make one wise.
Or some say sin appeals to the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual senses.
Or others say it promised food, beauty, and knowledge.
However you divide it, clearly she didn’t partake of the fruit because she thought it was broccoli. No offense. I know my family loves broccoli. My wife tries to make broccoli when I’m not at home, or some other, because she knows how bad I think it smells. But all of you kids, just say, “My pastor should eat his broccoli,” so do as your parents say, not as your pastor does.
No, she didn’t, she didn’t take it because she thought it was poison. She didn’t take it because she knew it was bitter. It looked good. And it was going to make her wise. And it was a delicious fruit.
Essentially, we have here in the garden the same triumvirate of temptations that always attack us, either from without as in the case of Jesus, or with us, as from within. Think about it.
Temptation is what? It’s to the lust of the flesh. The fruit was good for food. Flesh wanted the food.
Temptation is the lust of the eyes. It’s pleasing to the sight, verse 6 tells us.
And temptation is to the pride of life. She ate the fruit because she believed it would make her wise and make her like God.
Have you ever considered that these are the same three things that Satan presents Jesus when he tempts Him in the wilderness? Same three things. Lust of the flesh, turn these stones into bread, you’re hungry, you gotta eat, looks good, doesn’t it? The lust of the eyes. Remember, he says look at all the kingdoms of the world, I will give them to You, You can see it, I can give You all of that. And the pride: Jump off the temple if you are the Son of God. Call your angels to lift You up. You will make such a spectacle of yourself, no one will doubt who You are. It will be such a triumph of Your power.
Same three temptations.
So it’s no wonder that 1 John 2:16 describes worldliness as “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.”
These three things do not come from the Father, but from the world. Same temptations today.
So why do we sin? We sin when we are deceived about the Word of God. We sin when we are deceived about the consequences of sin.
Notice verse 4, the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” That may be the most fundamental lie that Satan continues to tell you and everyone you know. There’s no punishment for sin. There’s no punishment for sin. That’s, that’s fire and brimstone, or that’s Puritans, or that’s Old Testament, or that’s something… That’s not what God is like. What are you, barbaric people? There’s no punishment for sin.
That’s still the lie.
And until people have their eyes opened to see that lie, there will be nothing about the cross that is good news, nothing about Christ that will be attractive… Until they see there is punishment for sin, that was the flat out denial of the Word of God. No, no, no, no, no… we’re a bit more sophisticated than that, aren’t we, Eve? You won’t die, uh-uh, you won’t.
He denies the judgment of God.
We sin because we are deceived about the consequences of sin. Satan doesn’t tell us that promiscuous sex will leave us with profound regret. He doesn’t tell us that alcohol may leave us destitute. He doesn’t tell us that anger will imprison us. He doesn’t tell us that lust will enslave us. He doesn’t tell us that greed will ruin us. He doesn’t tell us that a season of sin in your past, or even a few moments of sin, ask King David, can have consequences for you and for your family for the rest of your life. He doesn’t tell you that.
He sets the bait and he hides the hook.
He presents sin as desirable and he presents God as stingy. He insinuates that God is not for us, but against us. In keeping this thing from you, God is not good. In bringing consequences for your sin, he will tell you that God is not good. The serpent whispers in our ears, “God does not want you to be like Him. God has given you these commandments to harm you. Do what you want, and you will be free.” Come on, Frodo, just slip on the ring, just one more time. You know you want to.
We sin because we are deceived about the nature of sin. Satan tempts Adam and Eve with human autonomy, “You can be free,” and in grasping for devilish freedom, they never became more enslaved. It’s the message the world shouts at us, “You be you, and you’ll be free.”
Immanuel Kant, the great enlightenment philosopher, said that Genesis 3 is an account of “the transition from an uncultured, merely animal condition to the state of humanity, from bondage to instinct, to rational control.. In a word, from tutelage of nature to the state of freedom.” Kant said it was essential for man to have “the power of choosing for himself a way of life and not being bound without alternative to a single way, like the animals.”
Another more recent writer, in the book The Myth of Man’s Fall, says what happens there is not a fall, but an awakening.
That’s how many in our world would understand it. He grew up. They chose for themselves.
As I’ve said many times, the devil wants to make sin look normal and righteousness look strange. And so he will make pride seem like self-esteem, and greed seem like God’s blessing, and lust like a natural part of being a man or a woman, and rebellion as the right of every teenager, and gossip as helpful conversation, and anger as necessary venting, and vanity as feeling good about ourselves….
Satan will always paint sin in virtue’s colors.
So it looks good, it feels good, it seems right.
This is an old song. It was an old song when I was growing up. It might be older than me, but some of you will know the old Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young.” It’s got a good hook. And I remember when I was a kid, and I still hear it on the radio, 70s on 7 on my dial, and you’ll hear, and it’s just a happy song, you want to have the windows down. And I remember listening to it as a kid and I don’t know how many times I had, just in the car or around, just kind of sang out the words until sometime a light bulb went off and what is this song about? “Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait. You Catholic girls start much too late. Sooner or later it all comes to fate, down to fate, you might as well be the one… ” It’s about a girl who’s a virgin and the guy is saying, “come on, you’re going to have sex sometime, I might as well be the one, you Catholic girls and your rosaries and all your stuff… Come on, only the good die young.” It’s so catchy. You want to sing it. Makes you feel happy, just the melody and the beat. You realize that’s a horrible song. [laughter]
Now I heard Billy Joel, or I read something where he was saying, well, it was about a girl that I had a crush on who was really Catholic and he said, “But you can take, she, I never got anywhere with her,” so that’s the, you know, good for Virginia, I guess.
There’s a thousand things like that in our life. Satan, Satan rarely presents you with logical syllogisms to get you to sin. He just gives you the movies and the TV shows and you’ve laughed for six months at the sitcom before you realize that huh, I really don’t think that that’s sin anymore. And you’ve, you’ve been singing all the songs in your head before you ever realize what they are.
Satan promises that sin will make us feel good, look good, be better, and so he makes the fruit look good for food, pleasing to the eye, desirable for gaining wisdom.
That’s why we sin.
And in the end, verse 7, Adam and Eve got what they wanted. That’s always the tragedy of sin. You get what you want, not what you need. They got the food, their eyes were opened, but what they got in sin was not what they thought they were getting from the serpent. Now they know they’re naked. They’re overwhelmed with a flood of guilt and shame and loss of freedom and they run from God and hide, they turn on God and on each other.
What was pleasing to the eye now makes their own nakedness to be an embarrassing sight.
Again there’s a play on words. Pleasing is the Hebrew word
“taawah” and fig is the word “teenah.” That looked pleasing, and in the end you needed to cover yourself because what looked good to the eye has now opened your eyes to a world you did not want to know.
And notice their guilt does not drive them to God. It leads them into self-protection, self-atonement. This is where we get the expression making fig leaves for ourselves. Ever since the garden we’re exposed. We’re shown to be sinners and rebels and our fallen instinct is not to run to God for mercy, but to scramble and cover ourselves: No, no, no, you didn’t see it, that’s not who I am. Nobody sees me, right?
Some of you are living your whole life that way, afraid of what people would really think about you. You may be at church, you may call yourself a Christian, you may even be a Christian but of a shallow kind, because your whole life is of sowing fig leaves together for yourself.
Satan never told Adam and Eve that they would feel guilt and shame, that they would be afraid, they’d be separated from God, alienated from each other. He didn’t tell them their sin would literally cost them paradise, but it did.
Well, I promise, we’re almost done, but I can’t leave you there with all bad news. God’s Word is older than Satan’s lies. And the Bread of Life is more powerful than the fruit of death.
I don’t know when I first saw this, I heard Ligon Duncan point this out in a sermon, I’ve read it in a commentary by Derek Kidner, was reminded of it again. Perhaps you haven’t seen this connection from verse 6: Such a simple act in the garden from the woman. She took of its fruit and ate. Take and eat. And the woman listens to the serpent. And she does, she took and she ate. Well, as you may already be drawing in your mind, “take and eat” in the garden leads to the destruction of the human race, while “take and eat” in the upper room will bring salvation to all who believe. Surely, Jesus had in His mind this first sin: You took and you ate, and now I give you something better than the fruit of the garden, I give you my very body and blood. Would you take and eat?
And the curse can be reversed. The curse can be swallowed up. Death can be swallowed up in victory.
And so my prayer in this sermon has been twofold. I hope that this sermon stops someone in this room, someone listening, from sinning. Someone is heading down a path that you know you should not be on. You are contemplating a decision that you know you should not make. You have allowed yourself, you have allowed the devil to convince yourself, that what you’re doing or the path you’re taking, is acceptable, and you know deep down it’s not. And you’re like Eve and you’ve, it’s looks pleasing, it looks promising, and my prayer is that you would see the ugliness of sin and you would stop where Eve fell.
My other hope and prayer is not only that this sermon might stop someone from sinning, but that it would lead all of us to the cross, for we all have sinned, we all have been exposed. We all have taken and eaten, so Christ says “take and eat, all of you,” of the forgiveness of sins.
Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, we ask for Your mercy. In Adam’s fall, we sinned all. Give us life and breath and health and strength, O for a thousand tongues to sing, our great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of our God and King, the triumphs of His grace. We need Your grace. And we ask for it in Jesus’ name. Amen.